A rare mistake
One of the pillars of Lewis Hamilton’s run to the 2017 world title was an almost total absence of mistakes, so it was somewhat ironic that the Mercedes driver chose the very first race after clinching his fourth crown as the place where he’d drop a clanger. Q1 was still in its infancy when Hamilton – carrying a lot of speed - lost the rear of his Silver Arrow between Turns 6 and 7 before sliding helplessly into the barrier. Just listen to the crunch!
Bold Seb beats cautious Bottas?
Neither Valtteri Bottas, starting on pole, nor Sebastian Vettel, alongside him on the front row, made a perfect getaway in Brazil, with each of them suffering wheelspin and struggling through various phases of the start. But in failing to swing left early on to defend the inside line, Bottas left the door open for the Ferrari man to attack – and that’s just what Vettel did. “I knew I had to go for it,” said the German afterwards. “There was a little bit of a gap, I went for that and obviously it turned out to be very important.”
Ericsson’s grandstand view of the first lap melee
Compared to Lance Stroll, seen bogging down to the left of the Sauber in this video, Marcus Ericsson got a reasonably good jump off the line in Brazil, but the Swede then exercised extreme caution through the opening bends. Still, when you see the chaos that unfolded ahead of him, and the pieces of carbon fibre sent flying in his direction, you can perhaps understand why…
3 into 1 won’t go
When you look at the hit taken by Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, as well as the way the Australian’s car was sent spearing across the track, it’s a wonder that only two cars – and not three – were eliminated in this opening lap skirmish. As the man in the middle, there appeared little Vandoorne could have done to avoid the tangle, which occurred as Kevin Magnussen drifted slightly from inside to out making it three wide into Turn 3. The eagle-eyed amongst you should pay particular attention to the view of Romain Grosjean’s Haas from the Dane’s onboard camera – clearly seen is contact between Vandoorne’s front wing and the Frenchman’s left-rear tyre. More of which below…
The moment ‘Oconsistency’ was ended
Romain Grosjean received a 10-second time penalty for this clash with Esteban Ocon, but both the Frenchman and his team were left fuming at the decision, saying his loss of control through Turn 6 was caused by a puncture, not by negligence. When you review the footage showing his left-rear tyre being given a prod by Vandoorne’s front wing (see above) and the rather skittish behaviour of the Haas out of Turn 4 – as seen from Esteban ‘Mr Consistency’ Ocon’s Force India – it looks like they might have had a point…
Massa gets the jump on Alonso
Felipe Massa has won his home race twice, but this move - on former team mate Fernando Alonso - must surely rank high up in his Interlagos memories, if only because of how decisive it proved. Coming after the Safety Car had peeled into the pits at the end of lap 4, the pass was clearly aided by the Williams driver’s horsepower advantage. But take nothing away from Massa’s racecraft – he timed the re-start perfectly, catching Alonso at the perfect time and making the move stick. And once ahead of the two-time world champion, he’d fight tooth and nail to stay there.
Two in four corners for Ricciardo
From his point of view, there have probably been far too many occasions this season when Daniel Ricciardo has had to fight his way up the order. But on each occasion, the Australian has never ceased to dazzle with his innate overtaking ability. Is there another driver in F1 who is able to overtake from so far back, making it look so easy? Just look at the confidence Ricciardo shows on the brakes as he first dives up the inside of Stroll’s Williams and then slices past Ericsson’s Sauber. Slower cars than the Red Bull, yes - but dispatched superbly.
Hamilton makes short work of Perez…
Also forced to climb the order on Sunday was Lewis Hamilton, who by the end of lap 12 had scythed all the way to P8 after his pit lane start. Sergio Perez’s Force India represented the toughest challenge he’d faced up to that point – the pink car fitted with the same Mercedes power unit – but Hamilton wasted little time putting the Mexican to the sword, making an around-the-outside pass look like child’s play. That, the Briton probably thought, was that – but as it happened he had to fight a little harder to make the move stick…
…and then muscles past Max
The final overtake made by Hamilton in his mega charge was on Max Verstappen for fourth place. Typically the Dutchman resisted as best he could, but there was little he could do once the Mercedes driver opened his DRS on the run down to Turn 4...
Massa holds on
How on the edge was Felipe Massa in his defence of seventh place from Fernando Alonso on the final lap of Sunday’s race? Just look at the tyre smoke into Turn 1… In the end Alonso got very close, but not quite close enough. In fact, if you look at the video above it’s Sergio Perez – lurking in the background behind the McLaren – who comes closest of all to making a pass as the trio raced up to the line.